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Jennifer Saran

Wake Up

Review by Gary Hill

Jennifer Saran's new album includes guests like Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Carlos Santana and Narada Michael Walden. I previously reviewed her Christmas album. Her style of music isn't really my kind of thing, more of an adult contemporary sound mixed with pop. Still, she manages to surpass that and make it work. If you really dig that kind of stuff, you will probably be crazy about this. I will say that there is quite a range of music on this set.

 

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2017  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Wake Up - featuring Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Carlos Santana and Narada Michael Walden

There is a tribal, almost reggae, vibe to this song in a lot of ways. It's energized, catchy and classy.

Jesus to a Child (Tribute to George Michael)
This ballad has a lot of jazzy sound in the mix. It's a pretty cut that works really well. I suppose that it's a little similar to some of George Michael's music in some ways. That said, this was a song by George Michael. I prefer this version to that one.
Really
Now, I'm not really a big fan of this. It's too heavily based on modern pop music. It feels far too over-produced, too. It's fast paced and catchy, but not enough to overcome the other problems. I'd consider this to be a "skip" tune.
Me & Mr. Jones (Tribute to Billy Paul)
Now, this is very much a mellower jazz take. It works really well. In fact, this might be my favorite tune here. Of course, I loved the Counting Crows version of this tune. The Billy Paul to whom this is dedicated, though, is the person who actually wrote and originally did the song. Mind you, both that version and Billy Paul's were titled "Me & Mrs. Jones."
You Are My Star featuring Ladysmith Black Mambazo
We move back into tribal territory with this piece. I like the duet vocal approach on this song. It's a nice change and effective number.
Too Young to Know
More of an adult contemporary pop music piece, this is a fun number that works really well.           
Better Than Me (for Anjali')
A pretty balladic number, this is classy stuff. It's very much cut from the adult contemporary school of sound.
Look at Me Fly
Another built on a bouncy pop styled arrangement, this is catchy and effective. It has a duet built into it. That is a nice touch and brings a soulful element to the table.
Old Cape Cod (Tribute to Patti Page)
Given the dedication, you would probably expect a retro styled number. That's exactly what we've got here. This is a ballad that feels like it could have been released in the 1920s or 1930s.The funny thing is, Page's version was released in the 1950s and feels more contemporary than this one does.
Try to Forgive (But I Cannot Forget)
This is another energetic pop tune. I like this quite a bit. It creates some nice contrast to the previous one because it's a modern sounding piece.
Lean on Me (Tribute to Bill Withers) featuring Ladysmith Black Mambazo
This has a real tribal vibe here. While I prefer the original, I like the vibe of this one. It's sort of a different side to the musical ideas.
Grace Is the Champion
Another that has a modern pop vibe, this doesn't suffer from over-production. I'd say that this lands more on the end of rock music than it does pure pop, too. It's definitely a good tune. In fact, this is one of my favorites here.
I Will Always Be Your Home
With a lot of strings in the mix, this blends a rock ballad with an adult contemporary one. I'm not crazy about the mellower parts of this, but I like it quite a bit when it's more powered up.
My Love and Devotion (Tribute to Doris Day)
This is precisely what you'd expect of a cover of Doris Day. It's delivered in the style she operated within and sounds a lot like her. It's definitely a slice of a long-gone time.
Aad Guray
There is a good chunk of world music on this balladic number. I love the multiple layers of voices on this piece. While I don't think this is the strongest number here, it has a sort of grounding quality that makes it work well as the final tune on the album.
 
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